On the 10th anniversary of New York City banning smoking in bars and restaurants, Mayor Michael Bloomberg rebuffed any claims that his controversial public health policies violate the underpinnings of American capitalism.
“We interfere with free enterprise all the time,” Mr. Bloomberg said this morning at a press conference commemorating the Smoke-Free Air Act. “We set minimum prices and sizes on lots of things. … Most of the cost of cigarettes is in taxes and they’re taxes that are enacted by Albany. So if you don’t like that, my suggestion is you go up to Albany and ask them why they’re taxing cigarettes. I happen to think it’s a great idea because it saves kids’s lives, so maybe you want to also talk to the parents of the kids and say, ‘We’re gonna try to stop this and have them smoke and they’ll die.’”
As he hailed what he believed was local, national and international impact of the wide-reaching smoking ban, Mr. Bloomberg insisted that government brought about changes in New Yorkers’ smoking habits, saving an estimated 10,000 lives. He used the testimony of a Manhattan bar owner, bartender and waitress to drive the point home.
“This comes from government and the government has a reason to do it,” he reiterated. “We use taxes to incentivize or disincentivize different types of activities all the time.”